Learning Objectives


Familiarize yourself with the learning objectives for each unit as we cover it. This is your "blueprint" and "study guide" for the course! Exam questions are taken directly from these objectives! I have put emphasis on key words to look/listen for when reading through the text and during lectures. Note: FREQUENT CHANGES MAY BE MADE IN THESE OBJECTIVES TO MORE CLOSELY FIT ITEMS COVERED IN CLASS TO EXAM MATERIAL.  MAKE SURE YOU GET THESE CHANGES IN CLASS!!.


Remember, these learning objectives are designed to help guide you to the necessary information needed to do well on the exam. By simply looking up the definitions, Amendments, Court Cases, etc. will not be sufficient; you will have to apply some thought and analysis in choosing the correct answers. For example, the Thirteenth Amendment not only abolished slavery, but it was also one of the three Civil War Amendments, plus it also shaped the creation of the Black Codes. Thus, the Thirteenth Amendment has multiple significances. 


Philosopher’s Lecture


  • Know the contributions and theories of the major philosophers (Socrates, Montesquieu, Marx, Cicero, and Saint Augustine).


Politics and Political Landscape Lecture 


  • What are some of the similarities and differences between Thomas Hobbes and John Locke.
  • Be able to discuss the purposes of government (hint – we discussed four)
  • Be able to discuss some of the major events (reformation and enlightenment period, Martin Luther, King Henry VIII, etc.) that influenced the Framers who drafted the Constitution.
  • Significance of the Mayflower Compact
  • Be able to define democracy, and know the different types.
  • Elitist v. Pluralist Perspective


Ch. 1 – American Government: Democracy in Action


  • Know how the U.S. ranks in terms of voter turnout when compared to other countries
  • How do totalitarian governments treat their citizens?
  • Pathways of Action
  • What did Alexis de Tocqueville say about the “essence of American politics?”
  • How is it that we can live in a country that is so diverse and still be able to get along?


Ch. 2 – Constitution


  • Know the systems of checks and balances and separation of powers
  • Be able to define mercantilism
  • Be able to discuss the events that led to the colonists declaring their independence from Great Britain
  • Be able to discuss the major weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation
  • What was the unwritten agreement between the colonists and Parliament?
  • What were the Anti-Federalists arguments opposing the adoption of the Constitution?
  • What was the purpose for the meetings, conventions, etc. that the Framers attended? 
  • Know the difference between an Anti-Federalist and a Federalist
  • Know the key provisions for the Virginia and New Jersey plans
  • What was the most serious disagreement between the plans?


Ch. 3 - Federalism


  • Franklin D. Roosevelt’s contribution to American politics
  • Where are state’s powers defined?
  • What is the difference between a unitary system and a federal system?
  • Know the court cases that defined the nature of the federal and state relationship
  • Be able to define federalism, and know the different types (Dual, Cooperative, etc.)
  • Know who settles disputes between states
  • What was the most extreme expression of dual federalism before the Civil War?
  • Be familiar with the powers and clauses discussed in the lectures and text (i.e. necessary and proper, implied, concurrent, reserved, etc.)
  • What was the significance of Federalist No. 51?
  • Article I denies certain powers to the national/state governments. In keeping with the Framers’ desire to forge a national economy, states are prohibited from doing what?





Ch. 5 – Politics and Personal Liberty


·        What did Barron v. Baltimore (1833) expose?

·        Know the importance of the amendments discussed in this chapter

·        The importance of the 14th Amendment

·        Be able to associate the court cases with the amendment (i.e. Gideon v. Wainwright was a case that dealt with “assistance of counsel,” which is inherently stated in the Sixth Amendment

·        Know the types of tests that were articulated in the freedom of speech cases

·        Significance of Roe v. Wade and the trimester breakdown

·        Which amendments provide procedural guarantees for those accused of a crime


Ch. 6 – Civil Rights


  • Significances of the Civil War Amendments
  • Know the difference between black codes and Jim Crow laws
  • Significance of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787
  • How are Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education related to one another, and also know the significances of each (i.e. separate but equal, 14th Amendment, equal protection, etc.)
  • Why the hypocrisy between slavery and equality?
  • Significance of Dred Scott v. Sandford
  • Understand what Affirmative Action is and how it relates to the Bakke case
  • Why were women angered with the passing of the 15th Amendment?
  • Women’s role in the drive for equality
  • Significances of the Missouri Compromise of 1820 (i.e. lightening rod, admission as slave/free states, etc.)
  • Lincoln’s role before, during, and after the Civil War
  • Significance of the CRA of 1964 (i.e. evolution, Title VII, JFK, etc.)






Ch. 7 – Congress


  • Qualifications and characteristics for House of Representatives and Senators
  • Congress’s most important and ultimate oversight powers
  • Understand the process of impeachment and conducting trials for impeachment (i.e. definition, Congress’s role in the process, etc.)
  • What is the purpose of redistricting and apportionment?
  • Why are a high percentage of incumbents reelected?
  • Know the roles of the Members of Congress (i.e. trustees, delegates, and politicos)


Ch. 8 - President


  • How many presidents have been impeached, and who were they?
  • In regards to a chief executive, what was the Anti-Federalists biggest fear?
  • Know the Amendments that effect term limits and succession
  • Understand Executive Privilege and the court cases associated with it
  • Know the qualifications for the president
  • What are the president’s Constitutional Powers as discussed in your text and in class (hint – there are five)?
  • Rasul v. Bush
  • Understand the different presidential theories as discussed in class (i.e. Steward, Prerogative, and Restricted) and the presidents that are associated with those theories


Ch. 4 – Judicial Branch


  • Understand jurisdiction and the different types
  • What process is used to consider if a case will be heard before the Court?
  • What are the types of opinions that can be written by the Supreme Court?
  • The Judiciary Act of 1789 as it relates to Marbury v. Madison (especially Section 13)
  • Define judicial review
  • What are the instances in which the U.S. Supreme Court has original jurisdiction?
  • Be able to explain the three-tiered structure of the court system





Ch. 10 – Public Opinion and Socialization


  • Be able to explain the gender gap (i.e. why women view issues differently than men)
  • Be able to define public opinion polls, and also know the importance of in regards to democracy
  • Impairment of socialization
  • Know how different public figures associate to different children
  • Understand the realm of political socialization (i.e. definition, influences, agents, etc.)
  • Be able to define public opinion
  • How did African Americans view the government in the 1960s? Why?
  • Why was O.J. able to be found not guilty?
  • How does college effect a student’s way of thinking in regards to public opinion
  • Understand and be able to explain the characteristics of the social groups discussed in class
  • The influence of the family can be traced to what two factors?
  • When are parental influences the greatest?


Ch. 15 – Political Parties


  • Know the main reasons for the decline in political parties and also how the spoils, patronage, and civil service laws effected party decline as well
  • The three entities of political parties
  • Political organizations function as intermediaries in order to organize individuals to give them power in doing what?
  • Why was the Pendleton Act passed?
  • The significance of machines during the Golden Age of politics
  • The disadvantages that third parties endure
  • What are the primary concerns of political parties and interest groups?


Ch. 14 – Campaigns and Elections


  • What are the purposes of national conventions?
  • The importance of the 26th Amendment, and why it was created
  • The relationship between raising political awareness and our nation’s schools
  • Define turnout
  • Know the significance of primary elections and the different types (open, closed, runoff, etc.)
  • Know the factors known to influence voter turnout and their characteristics (i.e. education – the more educated you are, the more likely you are to vote)
  • How are campaign funds raised?
  • People who are highly interested in politics constitute what portion of the population?
  • According to Robert Putnam, what are the main excuses for not participating?
  • Know what the national party platform is and why it is so important
  • Lifestyle-change theory
  • What is the most important hurdle for candidates running for public office, and why?


Ch. 16 – Public Policy


  • What is the purpose of social welfare programs?
  • Know how Part A and B of Medicare are financed
  • Policy Making Process
  • Impact of the Great Depression
  • Means-tested v. Non-means based
  • What was the intent of Social Security?
  • Know Franklin D. Roosevelt’s role during the Great Depression
  • EITC
  • Medicare v. Medicaid